** Warning: this column of my entry may be very boring to read! Mostly, I only wrote the following paragraphs because I needed to express my frustration. Feel free to skip over to the right-hand column. :)
This week has started on a bit more of a rough note. My Neuropsychology and Introductory Lithuanian classes suddenly got incredibly difficult. I was concerned about these classes before the semester started, but after last week, I was sure I could get through them. Though it took some extra work, I was grasping the material much easier than I originally expected I would. I don’t know what has happened to me this week, but I can’t seem to comprehend the lessons anymore. On Monday, my brain felt so fuzzy and I couldn’t manage to wrap my mind around our Neuropsych lecture. I was reading the research article but couldn’t pull out the meaning. Then, I felt pretty good in Intro. Lithuanian until we got to the last part of the lecture. Now I can’t figure out how to do my homework. None of it makes any sense anymore, which is really frustrating after feeling like I was catching on so quickly.
Actually, this is the realization of the biggest hurdle I was afraid to face. Before embarking on this semester abroad, I thought about the way I learn and how much extra work I have to put into my studies. I knew that when I came here, I would want to make the most of my experience inside AND outside the classroom. I wanted to make people, the orphanage babies, and discovering the culture my priorities. However, I knew that my learning style requires me to spend more time studying than most people. I felt relieved last week because I thought I was going to have more time to focus on those other things. Now, I find myself in a place where I don’t know what to do. In one day, I have managed to fall behind in all five classes. I spend hours on one assignment and never get anywhere with it. What happened to me? Why is everything so hard all of the sudden? I keep hoping for that light bulb moment when things start clicking…
In spite of my struggles and increased stress level, there have been some good moments, too! Yesterday, I got a package in the mail from my mom! I was so excited to hold something in my arms that my mom had sent, I almost cried. It felt like getting a hug from her…by way of a cardboard box. I’m sure this sounds silly, but it was a good moment.
Another wonderful thing: the sun has been shining for several days in a row! If you don’t know, that is rare for Lithuania in winter. Not only is there less daylight time in general during the winter months (today, the sun rose around 9:00AM and set around 4:30PM), but it usually stays cloudy. Though it is still very cold and windy, the sun is out!
I also got my first email from my Tri-S group leader. Tri-S stands for Spiritual Sustenance and Soup. This is a small group of Study Abroad students led by a married American couple who live here in Klaipėda. We meet as a group about once a month over the course of the semester to eat an American meal and talk about how we are adjusting, what we are learning, and what we are struggling with. I have been anticipating this so I am so excited to know who my group leaders are. We will have our first meeting next week.
And, an interesting Lithuanian fact to finish this entry: Did you know that you have to pay for plastic bags at the grocery stores here? It’s true! So, if you ever find yourself in Lithuania needing to get groceries at the local Iki or Maxima, take your own bag.